July 31, 2014

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Coroner: Brent Kandra had more than 600 wounds from bear attack

Adam Wright and Cindy Leise, The Chronicle-Telegram

COLUMBIA STATION — The bear that killed a man at a local exotic animal park inflicted more than 600 separate wounds, according to a Cuyahoga County coroner’s report.

Kandra

Kandra

Brent Kandra died from “multiple blunt impacts and sharp force injures of the head, torso and extremities” while working at World Animal Studios off North Marks Road on Aug. 19, according to the report. His injuries included two fractured ribs, a puncture wound to his heart and lacerations to his spleen, left kidney and left lung.

Kandra, who was 24, entered the bear’s cage to let the bear out as was normal procedure during feeding time. As he began to feed it doughnuts and corn, the bear started biting him and pulling him into the cage, court records show.

The owner of the animal park, Sam Mazzola, maintains that while Kandra had worked at the park in the past, he was there on that day as a visitor.

Mazzola’s animal collection has been the source of complaints, both from neighbors who express dismay about the noise and fear for their safety, as well as animal groups who have questioned Mazzola’s treatment of the animals.

Mazzola has told authorities that as the bear mauled the 6-foot-2, 263-pound Kandra, he yelled for Brett to slide beneath the cage wall to escape, which Kandra did. Blood was observed by officers along the gap between the cage and fencing and floor where Kandra slid out, records show.

Mazzola’s story, however, doesn’t add up with the extent of Kandra’s injuries, according to the director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who is urging county prosecutors to charge Mazzola with reckless homicide.

PETA gave The Chronicle-Telegram a copy of the coroner’s report along with a prepared statement.

“The autopsy report reads like the script of a horror film,” said PETA Director Delcianna Winders in the statement. “The evidence suggests that the bear played with the young man’s body like a rag doll for a prolonged period of time without any intervention.”

Mazzola told the media the day after the incident that he didn’t believe Kandra was seriously injured at the time and, after using a fire extinguisher to push the animal back into its cage, contemplated driving him to the hospital instead of calling for an ambulance.

“Me and Brent walked out of the barn and I said, ‘Brent, you have a couple big holes in you’ and he said, ‘I need to sit down,’ ” Mazzola said at the time.

Kandra’s father, John, said what Mazzola has said doesn’t match with the report.

“That’s the thing, I mean the coroner’s report conflicts with Sam’s statements,” he said during a phone interview Monday night.

“We knew that night the extent of the injuries were bad. We knew (Mazzola’s) stories that he doesn’t think they were bad were a crock of (expletive).”

Collin Palmer, who identified himself to police as a friend of Mazzola’s, arrived on scene after the mauling and told officers the bear that attacked Kandra, whose name was Iroquois, “had a history of biting and aggression,” court records show.

In addition to seeking charges against Mazzola, PETA also repeated requests Monday that Gov. John Kasich immediately enforce a ban on exotic animals that was put in place by his predecessor, former Gov. Ted Strickland.

The organization is calling on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to exercise its authority to declare emergency regulations to prohibit the keeping of exotic animals.

Mazzola did not return a phone message seeking comment Monday.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7155 or awright@chroniclet.com and Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.